Rail News Roundup #26

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Today’s Headlines

• Amtrak Finally Moves into Springfield Union Station

• Hartford Line | the One Year Anniversary

• Northampton | Station Parking News

• Northampton | A Bridge to Low

• Senators Comerford and Lesser Speak about Rail service

• Draft Pioneer Valley 2020 Regional Transportation Plan Update

• Springfield | State St Crossing Closed by Amtrak

• Springfield | Clinton St Crossing gets Warning Lights

• A Rail Milestone in the Berkshires

 

CALENDAR

2020 Region Transportation Plan Update
Public Meetings

Springfield
Tues. June 25, 2019 | 7 pm
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
60 Congress Street

Northampton
Wed. June 26, 2019 | 7 pm
City Hall, 201 Main Street
2nd Floor Hearing Room

Westfield
Thur. June 27, 2019 | 7 pm
City Hall, 59 Court Street

Further details below.

 

MassDOT East-West Passenger Rail Study
Advisory Committee Meeting #2
May 14, 2019 – POSTPONED

New Date | July 23, 2019 from 1 pm – 3 pm
Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel
Mahogany Room, Second Floor

 


Amtrak Finally Moves into Springfield Union Station

Amtrak moved its Springfield ticket office into the main hall at Union Station on June 6, 2019 — nearly two years after the historic station was re-opened to the public — and on the following day they closed their 1990s-era waiting room at track level.

Here are a few pictures that visually summarize “moving day” for Amtrak in Springfield.

Amtrak’s waiting room at track level on its last day
Springfield, Ma. | June 6, 2019

 

The soon-to-be opened Amtrak ticket office at Springfield Union Station | June 6, 2019

 

The existing stairway to Platform D
Springfield Union Station | June 6, 2019

 

The new Amtrak ticket office at Springfield Union Station | June 6, 2019

 

Not to bury the lede… but in related news, it has been announced that the new high-level platform at the station is expect to open in July.

Further reading

“Amtrak Moves Passenger Services To Springfield’s Union Station”
By Paul Tuthill | WAMC | June 11, 2019

 


Hartford Line | the One Year Anniversary

A southbound train out of Springfield rips through banner at Hartford Union Station, marking inaugural run for the Hartford Line
Photo by Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant

“Hartford Line beats expectations with 634,000 trips in first year”
By Russell Blair | Hartford Courant | June 17, 2019

 

Great news for the Hartford Line!

Ridership on the new rail service exceeded expectations, with an estimated 634,000 trips during the rail line’s first year of operation.

The busiest day of the year was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when 3,500 riders used the service.

Also included in the announcement was news that the Connecticut Department of Transportation intends to start construction of a new Hartford Line station in Windsor Locks in 2020. (Bids for the new station are scheduled to be advertised on May 13, 2020.)

Further information

Hartford Line One Year Report (PDF)
Connecticut Dept. of Transportation | June 17, 2019

Video | Hartford Line beats expectations with 634k passengers in first year (15:22)
Office of Gov. Ned Lamont | June 17, 2019

 


Northampton | Station Parking News

The extension of the train platform off Pleasant Street in Northampton continues
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 10, 2019

“Train station expansion nearly finished in Northampton, parking management changes in works”
By Bera Dunau | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 12, 2019

 

A recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette provided an update on the evolving parking situation at the Union Station lots in Northampton.

As many people are aware, passengers wishing to take the train from Northampton unfortunately can’t park at the station today.

This parking situation is expected to change this summer when the owner of the lot at Union Station completes the installation of an an automated parking control system — with a new gate to be located at the Pleasant Street exit from the lot.

According to the article, parking will then cost $0.75/hour which works out to $18 for a 24-hour period. This hourly rate is that same rate that is currently charged by the city at E. J. Gare Municipal Garage in downtown Northampton.

Clearly these rates are high compare to the $10 weekday ($6 Sat or Sun) maximum rate at the Olver Street Parking Garage in Greenfield, or the $5 “daily commuter rate” at the Union Station Garage in Springfield.

 


Northampton | A Bridge to Low

Cars passing under the bridges above Bridge Street
Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 17, 2019

“Despite city’s best efforts, low bridge still taking hits”
By Bera Dunau | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 17, 2019

 

Early this month yet another tractor-trailer got stuck after attempting to pass under the railroad bridge that carries the Connecticut River Main Line over Main Street in Northampton. This bridge, which is only 11′ 0″ above the road surface, is too low for some vehicles.

The article, linked above, got us thinking. . . isn’t there a way that this could be solved with technology?

The short answer is yes, and last week we set the “maxheight” parameter for this bridge on the OpenStreetMap site to 11′ 0″.

 

Screenshot of the OpenStreetView site (in edit mode) | June 19, 2019

This is important because many navigation products (Garmin in particular) use the data from OpenStreetMap as a primary data source.

Will this solve the problem of trucks driving into this bridge? No, it won’t, but it should help.

Many drivers don’t use navigation devices and some use navigation apps (such as Waze) that do not use the bridge height data when navigating.

Time will tell whether or not this change reduces the number of bridge strikes on Main Street. We hope it does.

Further reading

“Tractor-trailer gets jammed under Northampton railroad bridge”
By Dusty Christensen | Daily Hampshire Gazette | June 11, 2019

 


Senators Comerford and Lesser Speak about Rail service

 

In this interesting ten minute interview Senators Jo Comerford (D-Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester) and Eric Lesser (D-First Hampden and Hampshire) talk in depth with Carrie Saldo of WGBY about their efforts to secure funding to support marketing of the planned new Greenfield – New Haven passenger rail service.

 


Draft Pioneer Valley 2020 Regional Transportation Plan

Happening this week 

On Tuesday this week the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is expected to release its draft 2020 Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).

The RTP outlines the direction of transportation planning and improvements for the Pioneer Valley for the next twenty years, through to the year 2040. Importantly, it provides the basis for all state and federally funded transportation improvement projects and planning studies.

This plan is only updated every five years so its important for interested parties to speak up now, since the next chance to review this plan won’t occur again until 2024.

With that said, we would encourage you to —

  1. Attend one of the public meetings this week in Northampton, Springfield or Westfield; (meeting dates and locations can be found in the calendar section above)
  2. Review the draft RTP (on the link below) when it is released on Tuesday; and
  3. Provide written comments on the RTP as detailed in the link below.

Comments on the draft RTP are due by July 15, 2019.

Our experience suggests that pubic input to planning efforts like this one can and does make a make a difference.

We strongly encourage you to offer your input to the draft plan, in particular in support of expanded passenger rail service in our region.

For further information about the draft Pioneer Valley RTP — including links to the draft plan and details on how to provide comments — please click on the project link below:

Pioneer Valley Regional Transportation Plan

 


Springfield | State Street Crossing Closed by Amtrak

State Street crossing | looking west
Springfield, Ma. | June 10, 2019

The State Street crossing of the Amtrak rail line in Springfield is now blocked by locked gates (shown above) on both sides of the tracks.

We assume that this step was taken for safety reasons.

This crossing until last year provided a means for pedestrian to access the Connecticut River Walk, over a railroad crossing that was not protected by automatic warning signals (bells, lights and gates.)

 

New signs at the crossing instruct people who wish to cross the tracks to use either the underpass just to the north of this location or the overpass to the south, which is behind LA Fitness.

Amtrak’s future plans are for this crossing are not known to us at the moment.

Further reading

“Springfield’s Riverfront Park reopens after $3.1 million renovation project”
By Peter Goonan | The Republican | June 12, 2019

“Riverfront Park in Springfield is getting a facelift — but is a rail crossing a barrier to access?”
By Greg Saulmon | The Republican | October 16, 2018

 


Springfield | Clinton Street Crossing gets Warning Lights

Clinton Street crossing | looking east
Springfield, Ma. | June 10, 2019

Pan Am Railways recently completed the installation of new active warning lights at the Clinton Street crossing in Springfield.

This crossing until recently was only marked with passive crossbuck signs.

We assume that this work, which is funded by MassDOT, was done to increase the safety at this railroad crossings, which is a good thing for sure.

 


A Rail Milestone in the Berkshires

Earlier this month the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) released a draft copy of their 20-year Regional Transportation plan.

On page 33 of the 288-page document is this chart which lists transportation service projects that were ranked according to the BRPC’s scoring framework rating system.

What is particularly interesting about this table is the focus on expanding passenger rail service in the Berkshires and in particular the clear priority assigned to the re-establishment of passenger rail service along the Housatonic Line corridor.

The Housatonic Line, which runs generally south from Pittsfield to Danbury, would allow for intra-regional travel along the corridor and potentially could once again open a direct passenger rail connecting between the Berkshires and the New York City.

Is this going to happen tomorrow? No. But people should not underestimate the importance of what has happened here.

The regional planning organization for the region, the Berkshire Planning Commission has now said that re-establishing passenger rail service along this line is a priority transportation service project for the region in the long term transportation plan.

This is a big step for passenger rail in western Massachusetts. The goal has now been set by the BRPC and now we simply have to find a way to reach this goal, over time.

Further reading

The Train Campaign
A regional advocacy group in the Berkshire working for the restoration of passenger rail service on the Housatonic Line.

Rail News Roundup #25

 

Today’s Headlines

• MassDOT’s 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan Update

• Working on the Railroad

• Rail Pilot Marketing Funding Included in Senate Budget

• Proposed North Adams / Greenfield – Boston Rail Study Passes Senate

• Platform Progress in Greenfield & Northampton

• Holyoke | Vandalism at the Station

• Holyoke | New Freight Activity

• Hartford Line | a View from the Cab

 

CALENDAR

Public Meeting | MassDOT Capital Investment Plan Update
Thur. June 6, 2019 at 6 pm
Springfield Public Library (Mason Square Branch)
765 State St.

MassDOT East-West Passenger Rail Study
Advisory Committee Meeting #2
Planned for June 2019
Details to be announced

 


MassDOT’s 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan Update

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has released the draft version of its 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) Update for public comment.

The draft plan can be found on this link:
2020-2024 Capital Investment Program Update

 

This plan is important because is details all of the planned transportation and transit infrastructure spending for the four-year period starting on July 1, 2019.

We focus on this plan each year because it helps us to better understand MassDOT’s plan for rail infrastructure improvements in our region.

You can participate in this process by attending a CIP Public Meeting and/or submitting comments to MassDOT on the plan.

Public Meeting | MassDOT Capital Investment Plan
Thur. June 6, 2019 at 6 pm
Springfield Public Library
(Mason Square Branch)
765 State St.

If you cannot attend this meeting you may wish to view the recorded video of the CIP public meeting that was held in Boston on May 21st.

::

We have extracted all of key data, for the rail projects in our region, from the draft CIP and summarized the data in this two-page worksheet.

Public comments

If you wish to leave comments on planned rail projects in our region follow these steps:

  1. Click on this link to the CIP Comment Tool
  2. Click on the “2019 Rail and Transit Division Projects” tab on the right
  3. Click on “Rail Line Projects” and/or “Statewide Rail Projects”

 

Alternatively comments can be submitted by email to MassCIP@state.ma.us

Keep in mind that the public comment period ends on Monday, June 10, 2019.

Further reading
MassDOT 2020-2024 CIP Update
A page on the Trains In The Valley website

 


Working on the Railroad

As many people have noticed, there’s a lot of track work taking place on the north-south rail corridor in the valley at the moment.

We went out to have a look last week and here’s what we found just off of Route 5 in Easthampton.

Track workers and their machines moving south on the Conn River Main Line | looking north
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

What’s happening is that MassDOT’s contractor LM Heavy Civil Construction is replacing ties on the state-owned Conn River Main Line.

This crew started in Greenfield about a month ago and is slowly and methodically working its way south to Springfield — as they replace thousands of old ties along the rail line used by Amtrak’s Vermonter and Pan Am Railways.

On a good day the crew can replace over 900 ties during its eight-hour work window, which runs from 5 am to 1 pm.

 

New ties being inserted under the rails on the Conn River Main Line | looking east
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

 

New and old ties along the Conn River Main Line
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

 

Track workers on the Conn River Main Line | looking east
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

Not all of the work is done by machine. In this image workers can be seen positioning tie plates between the rails and the new ties.

 

Tie replacement on the Conn River Main Line | looking south
Easthampton, Ma. | May 31, 2019

Funding for this project was provided in the current MassDOT Capital Investment Plan.

Further reading
Infrastructure | Current Projects
A page on the Trains In The Valley website with information on the many infrastructure projects in progress across our region.

 


Rail Marketing Funding Included in Senate Budget

Amendment 705 to the Senate version of the State Budget — which calls $250,000 to be allocated for marketing the planned new passenger rail service between Greenfield and New Haven — was passed in the state Senate on May 21, 2019.

Heartfelt thanks go out to Senators Jo Comerford and Eric Lesser, and their staff, for all the work that they did to get this amendment through the budget process in the Senate.

Why do you need to market this service you might ask?

Because, for the new service to be really successful (which is what we want) there needs to be a robust marketing effort to make people aware of the new service.

Then we need to do some marketing to get people out of their cars on the train (first-time train riders in particular).

And then we need to be able to offer special promotions to fill seats that might otherwise be empty.

Next stop… the Senate budget goes to a Conference Committee where it will be reconciled with House version of the budget, and then it must be signed by the by Governor Baker — two steps that are not at all certain.

CALL TO ACTION

If you support additional rail service between Greenfield and New Haven, then please reach out to the members of the Conference Committee [LISTED HERE] and

ask them to support the funding in the budget for a marketing campaign to be managed by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in support of Knowledge Corridor pilot program, which expands train service along the Holyoke, Northampton, and Greenfield line. (Referenced as Section 2, item 7007-0300)

Further reading
“Senate adds $250K to budget for Knowledge Corridor”
By Anita Fritz | The Greenfield Recorder | May 28, 2019

 


Proposed North Adams / Greenfield – Boston Rail Study Passes Senate

Amendment 30 to the Senate version of the State Budget — which calls for a study of the feasibility of passenger rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston — was passed in the state Senate on May 21, 2019.

To move forward, the language calling for a study must be included in the budget that comes out of the 2020 Budget Conference Committee, and then it must be signed by the by Governor Baker — two steps that are not at all certain.

CALL TO ACTION

If you support a study of the feasibility of passenger rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston, then please reach out to the members of the Conference Committee [LISTED HERE] and

ask them to support the outside section that calls for a feasibility study of rail access between the cities of North Adams and Boston. (Referenced as Section 107).

Further reading

“Plenty of people on board with resurrecting passenger rail linking North Adams, Boston”
By Adam Shanks | The Berkshire Eagle | June 1, 2019

Proposed Northern Tier Rail Study
Trains In The Valley

 


Platform Progress in Greenfield & Northampton

The project underway to extend the station platforms in Greenfield and Northampton continues to move forward.

The progress photos below show that most of the timber work is now well underway.

Greenfield station | looking south | May 22, 2019
Courtesy of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments

 

Amtrak Train 55 in the station at Northampton | looking south
Northampton, Ma. | June 3, 2019

This image shows the new section of platform located just to the south of the existing 43-foot station platform.

Further reading

Greenfield platform extension project
Trains In The Valley

Northampton platform extension project
Trains In The Valley

 


Holyoke | Vandalism at the station

Holyoke station | May 22, 2019

The station in Holyoke was recently vandalized when someone decided to smash two of the large decorative glass panels at the north end of the station structure.

The remaining panels have since been removed as the city takes steps to replace the panels.

 


Holyoke | New Freight Activity

Holyoke rail yard as viewed from South Canal St | looking north | May 22, 2019

Pan Am Railways has a new freight customer.

What you see here in this image are flatcars loaded with with 20′ containers.

The containers arrive by rail empty in Holyoke and are trucked to Republic Services in Chicopee. They are filled with municipal solid waste and then trucked back to Holyoke were they are loaded onto flatcars. Pan Am then picks the cars as an outbound movement.

 


Hartford Line | a View from the Cab

This recent video shows the complete journey of a CTrail Hartford Line train, traveling from New Haven to Springfield, as viewed from the front of the train.

Here is the caption that was posted on YouTube for the video:

Driver’s eye view of the entire Hartford / Springfield Line from New Haven to Springfield, courtesy of the friendly train crew. We were even lucky enough to get a set with SLE Mafersa cars, with cab car 1703 sporting a fine sounding raised letter K5LA. Maximum operating speed for CTrail is 80 MPH. Enjoy the ride =)

We know that not everyone is interested in such stuff, but we thought it was useful to post since the video allows the viewer to take a quick look (using fast forward) of the entire 62-mile rail corridor.

Rail News Roundup #23

 

Today’s Headlines

• New Hartford Line Schedule

• Northampton (NHT) | March 8, 2019

• Greenfield and Northampton | Station Work Update

• Update | Planned New Greenfield–New Haven Service

• Update | East–West Rail Study

• Springfield Library Earth Day Event

• Fatality in Springfield

• Springfield | State St Crossing News

• Berkshire Flyer Report Released

 

Calendar

Earth Day Talk
Springfield to Boston Train Service, Are We on Track?
Mon. April 22, 2019 | 6:15 pm – 7:45 pm
Sixteen Acres Branch Library
1187 Parker St
Springfield, MA 01129

further details below

 


New Hartford Line Schedule

Hartford Line Timetable | eff. April 14, 2019 | weekday page view

A new schedule for the Hartford Line went into effect this past Sunday, April 14th, 2019. The most notable change was the elimination of the one CTRail weekday train that arrived in Springfield from stations to the south before 9 am.

New England Public Radio (NEPR) reported said that the train was dropped due to low ridership, which is not surprising considering that the train was scheduled to arrive in Springfield at the unfriendly time of 6.07 am.

Unfortunately the new schedule provides no way for anyone who lives in Connecticut to commute to Springfield on the train for a 9–5 job. Amazingly, the schedule has four trains south (from Springfield) and no trains north (to Springfield) before 9 am.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) says that the problem is the single track between Windsor and Enfield. We also suspect that CTDOT desire is to focus their CTrail train sets on the New Haven–Hartford corridor since MassDOT at the moment only provides financial support for the Amtrak operated trains on the line.

Carmen Baskauf, a producer for Connecticut Public Radio who rides the Hartford Line, posted this interesting series of five Tweets on the schedule change —

What’s also interesting is this sentence from the NEPR piece linked below:

“He [Rich Andreski, with CTDOT] said his agency has not determined whether there would be greater demand for a train that arrived [in Springfield] closer to 9:00 am, but that such service would require additional track capacity that doesn’t currently exist.”

We don’t doubt that this statement is true, but one only has to walk through the Springfield Parking Authority’s garages on a weekday to see the many cars with Connecticut plates to figure out that -yes- there is demand for northbound service that arrives into Springfield before 9 am.

Further reading

“No More Early Morning Commuter Rail Service From Hartford To Springfield”
By Alden Bourne | New England Public Radio | April 15, 2019

 


Northampton (NHT) | March 8, 2019

Record ridership out of Northampton on the Vermonter.

Northampton station | looking north
By Robert Kearns | March 8, 2019 | 2.02 pm

The panoramic image above shows the scene at the station in Northampton on Friday, March 8, 2019 — the last day of classes before the start of Spring recess at UMass Amherst and Smith College.

How many people are in this line you might ask? We counted about 150.

Just how long was the train stopped? A total of 10 minutes¹.

¹ Transit Docs website [https://asm.transitdocs.com/train/2019/03/8/55]

 


Greenfield and Northampton | Station Work Update

The project underway to extend the station platforms in both Greenfield and Northampton continues to move forward.

The progress photos below show that most of the precast concrete foundations are now in place.

Greenfield station | looking south | April 19, 2019
Source: Franklin Regional Council of Governments

 

Northampton station | looking north | April 7, 2019

If all goes well this project will be substantially complete by early July.

Further reading

Greenfield platform extension project | Trains In The Valley

Northampton platform extension project | Trains In The Valley

 


Update | Planned New Greenfield–New Haven Service

Vermonter Ridership Survey Now Underway in Western Mass

If you are riding Amtrak’s Vermonter to or from western Mass between now and July 31, 2019 please take the on-line ridership survey that is now underway.

The survey can be found on this link
www.surveymonkey.com/r/RailRider

Over the coming weeks surveyors will be meeting selected trains to distribute survey cards (shown above) to the arriving and departing passengers at each station.

The results of the survey will be used during the development of the marketing plan for the new Greenfield-New Haven rail service.

Note that this ridership survey is sponsored by the Franklin County Regional Council of Governments, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and Trains In The Valley.

:

State Reps. Seeks Funds for Rail Marketing

Representatives Lindsay Sabadosa (D-1st Hampshire), Paul Mark (D-2nd Berkshire), and Aaron Vega (D-5th Hampden) have filed an amendment to the Massachusetts state budget bill requesting that a sum of $25,000 be provided to support a marketing campaign for the new Greenfield–New Haven passenger rail service.

The funds were requested as Amendment #461 to the Fiscal Year 2020¹ state budget bill.

We remain hopeful that these funds will be approved when the state budget is finalized in a few months.

Further information

New Greenfield–New Haven Service | Trains In The Valley

¹ The state fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th.

 


Update | East–West Rail Study

East-West Rail Study Public Meeting #1
By Robert Kearns | Springfield, Ma. | March 12, 2019

It was a standing room only crowd at the first public meeting for the East-West Passenger Rail Study in Springfield back on March 12, 2019, with over 100 people signed in on the official roster of attendees.

The meeting consisted of a presentation (given by the MassDOT project manager) which was followed by a public comment period. The formal part of the meeting then ended and attendees were invited to join an “Open House” where people could talk with members of the project team.

A detailed written summary of meeting is linked further below in this post.

Of particular interest is this page from the presentation –

To the surprise of some, the official list of “potential approaches” now includes a Bus Rapid Transit option and a Maglev option.

Maglev, which is derivative from the words magnetic levitation, is form of transportation that allows for high-speed ground travel at speeds in excess of 300 mph.

It is safe to say that we will never see a Maglev line built in Massachusetts, for countless reasons, including the construction costs — which at the moment are in excess of $265 million per mile¹.

The new Bus Rapid Transit option was quickly criticized for numerous reasons in a published Op-Ed piece [“Keep East-West Rail On Track” | The Republican] which argued that the study needs to stay focused on rail options.

Next up for this study — The 2nd meeting of the East-West Rail Study Advisory Committee, later this spring.

Further Reading

East-West Study Public Meeting #1 Presentation (PDF)
MassDOT

East-West Study Public Meeting #1 Open House Boards (PDF)
MassDOT

East-West Study Public Meeting #1 Summary (PDF)
MassDOT

“Former Senate president prods DOT to expand rail study”
By Larry Parnass | The Berkshire Eagle | March 13, 2019

“Proposed East–West rail provides challenges”
By G. Michael Dobbs | Reminder Publications | March 14, 2019

Opinion | “Keep East-West Rail on Track”
By Ben Hood (co-founder Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop), Karen Christensen (President, The Train Campaign, Ben Heckscher (Co-founder, Trains In The Valley), and Dave Pierce (President, Chester Railway Station)
The Republican | March 18, 2018
(also published in the Berkshire Eagle, the Berkshire Edge, and the Daily Hampshire Gazette.)

Opinion | “Two big rail projects, one big vision for Massachusetts”
Stan Rosenberg | The Republican | March 22, 2019

¹ Based on the expected costs to build the Chuo Shinkansen maglev line in Japan.

 


Springfield Library Earth Day Event

Springfield to Boston Train Service, Are We on Track?
Mon. April 22, 2019 | 6:15 pm – 7:45 pm
Sixteen Acres Branch Library
1187 Parker St
Springfield MA 01129

Rail service is on the rise in Western Mass. Hear from key leaders about train service from Springfield to Boston.

  • Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, speaking about more passenger rail from Springfield and some recent, climate-friendly developments in public transportation.
  • Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will talk about his appointment to the Advisory Committee for MassDOT’s Study of East-West rail, and why expanded Springfield to Boston passenger rail which could be a boon for commuters, job hunters, and the economy.
  • Reggie Wilson, Sixteen Acres Branch Library Manager, will present on environmentally friendly trains that could be used between Springfield and Boston.

 


Fatality in Springfield

A well worn footpath across the rail line | Springfield, Ma. | March 27, 2019
Courtesy of the Republican

A woman was killed while attempting to cross the active rail line near Wason Avenue in Springfield’s North End on Monday, March 25, 2019.

The person who died, who was said to be trespassing on the tracks, was hit by Amtrak train 56, the Vermonter, which was traveling north on the MassDOT-owned Connecticut River Main Line.

Tragically this accident happened only weeks before the start of construction of a long-planned pedestrian tunnel under the tracks near the location of the accident.

Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased, the crew members on the train, and the first responders.

Further reading

“Woman crossing railroad tracks killed after being hit by a train in Springfield”
By Taylor Knight | WWLP-22News | March 26, 2019

“Pedestrian tunnel under Springfield train tracks arriving too late to prevent tragedy”
By Patrick Johnson | The Republican | March 27, 2019

Springfield underpass project | Trains In The Valley

 


Springfield | State St Crossing News

Courtesy of the Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association held its annual meeting two weeks ago in Washington, D.C. This meeting brings together rail advocates from across the country for three days of meetings and presentations.

The keynote speaker during lunch on Monday April 1st was Kenneth Hylander, the Executive Vice President and Chief Safety Officer for Amtrak. His presentation focused on the Safety Management System that Amtrak is putting in place across the organization.

About half way through the presentation he got to the subject of railroad crossing safety.

To the surprise of some in the room, the State Street crossing in Springfield was noted as the example of an extremely dangerous crossing on Amtrak’s network.

In his remarks he said that Amtrak is actively working with the city of Springfield to find ways to make it possible for people to cross the Amtrak-owned tracks at this location using the underpass that is just to the north of the crossing rather than via the existing at-grade crossing at the end of State Street.

How and why the State Street crossing became Amtrak’s poster-child for safer railroad crossings we do not know, but we are happy to see that Amtrak has finally started to pay attention to the dangerous situation that has existed at this crossing for many years.

Further reading

State Street Crossing | Trains In The Valley

Presentation of Kenneth Hylander to the RPA DC meeting | April 1, 2019

 


Berkshire Flyer Report Released

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and 1Berkshire has released their final report for the Berkshire Flyer 2.0 Project — A Pilot Seasonal Rail Service between New York City and The Berkshires.

Berkshire Flyer 2.0 Final report (PDF)
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission | 3/1/2019

The new Berkshire Flyer service will operate use the existing tracks between Pittsfield and New York Penn Station via Albany/ Rensselaer and will function as an extension of Amtrak’s Empire Service.

The two-year pilot service, which is scheduled to start in 2020, will run on a Friday northbound/ Sunday southbound schedule for twenty weeks of service annually between Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend.

The estimated fare between New York Penn Station and Pittsfield, Mass. is projected to be $70 – $75 one-way.

Further reading

Berkshire Flyer 2.0 Project website
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

“Berkshire Flyer Team: Berkshires To NYC Rail One Step Closer”
By Josh Landes | WAMC | March 3, 2019